Sunday, April 21, 2024

'Gang of Four' left imprint on CDA

| December 11, 2020 1:00 AM

You may know that retired attorney Steve McCrea wrote a biography about Thomas Kerl, developer of Coeur d’Alene’s Fortgrounds and a World War I resister.

But did you know that McCrea was the only political survivor of the Save Our Shoreline ticket that swept into city office in November 1981?

"The Gang of Four" (Jim Fromm, Jim Michaud, Bob Brown, and McCrea) ran against a developer's plans to build two towers near the old North Shore (Coeur d'Alene Resort today).

The four allies turned the city on its head from the start.

They annexed subdivisions on the edge of town, including Indian Meadows. They passed bond issues to expand the sewer treatment plant, bringing an end to a building moratorium. They settled a contentious firefighters strike. They limited the height of buildings on the shoreline.

In the process they earned the animosity of annexed residents and the business establishment.

In 1985, Brown and Michaud — later 1st District Judge Michaud — didn't seek re-election. Ray Stone soundly beat Fromm. McCrea survived by 24 votes. And prospered.

Two years into his second term, 32 years ago this week, McCrea told me that he enjoyed serving under Stone as much as he did Fromm. In fact, he liked both men, who didn’t like each other. Also, he learned to appreciate developer Duane Hagadone as a doer. Under Fromm, the “Gang of Four” had bumped heads with the Coeur d’Alene multi-millionaire.

After six years on the council, McCrea said he had changed in one way. He was less judgmental than when he’d begun. In other words, he had learned to play well with elected officials who didn’t share his ideas, a quality sadly lacking in politicians at all levels today.

Just show up

Tim Christie, award-winning outdoor writer and photographer (, has won national acclaim by listening to his father. Early on, Tim’s pop told him that, to succeed, he must show up. That lesson came to mind as Tim waited with a friend in frigid weather to photograph eagles at Higgens Point on Lake Coeur d’Alene Monday. Hours later, Tim called it a day, skunked. Now, fast forward to Tuesday. Tim almost stayed home as the day dawned overcast. Then, he thought of his father’s counsel and returned to his go-to spot. There, he found his friend snapping a cooperative eagle on a branch near enough to reveal the frost crusting its back feathers. Later, an eagle with fish in tow, framed by golden light, treated the friends to a fly-by. “I could have stayed home convincing myself the light was awful,” Tim said, adding: “To be successful, ya gotta show up.” And that’s how people like Tim are “luckier” than others.


• Poet’s Corner (with apologies to Joyce Kilmer and Ogden Nash): I think that I shall never see/a stump as lovely as a tree,/and if more windstorms come to call/perhaps I’ll see no trees at all – The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“Trees”).

• Post Falls residents Christopher Matthews and David Taylor were such fans of Tuesday’s sunrise that each Facebooked photos of it. Christopher said the colorful dawn made his night shift at Vitalant blood bank in Spokane “worth it.” David, meanwhile, offered a photo of daybreak from Tubbs Hill, commenting: “Early risers can catch some spectacular sunrises.” This night owl will take David’s word for it.

• Poet’s Corner II: Gray skies and drizzle/Make moods fizzle./But rain down here, means snow up there/And powder means cash around here – David Townsend (“Drizzle Here, Powder There”).

• Sign of the Times (readerboard at the Church of Christ at Dalton Gardens): “An Unplanned Pregnancy Changed the World.” ‘Tis the reason for the season, after all.

• Bumpersnickers (on a red Chevy truck spotted by Tom Hearn of Coeur d’Alene): “All Men Are Animals: Some Just Make Better Pets.” And: “Ban Democrats, Not Guns.” And: “Congress: Meet the New Morons, Same as the Old Morons.” And, of course, there was a fourth bumpersticker: “Trump 2020.”

Parting Shot

As the holidays began, state Rep. Paul Amador, R-Coeur d’Alene, survived a close encounter with an unhinged constituent at his doctor’s office. Paul, the new chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, was sitting in the waiting room when Unmasked Woman entered the office and was ordered to put on face covering. She refused. The receptionist didn’t budge. Angry, the would-be patient left. And then returned moments later to scream at Paul and others in the waiting room: “You’re nothing but sheeple.” Baa, baa, humbug.

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D.F. “Dave” Oliveria can be contacted at


Photos by Tim Christie (